About Futuresource Consulting

Futuresource Consulting, the specialist research and consulting company, is delighted to be the official knowledge partner for CEATEC. The company can trace its roots back to the 1980s and provides market insights into consumer electronics, digital imaging, entertainment media, broadcast, optical manufacturing, storage media, professional IT and education technology.
With more than 70 full-time employees providing in-depth analysis and forecasts across consumer and professional electronics categories, Futuresource is able to advise on market, competitive and technological developments, providing clients with access to the information that helps produce the best possible results.


Soundbar Shipments on the Rise

Worldwide shipments of soundbars – separate speaker units containing two or more speakers that are connected to a television - doubled in size between 2010 and 2011 to reach nearly 2.5 million units, with the market expected to enjoy further growth throughout the forecast period to 2016.

In the middle of the last decade, soundbars were targeted at relatively high end consumers who did not have the space for complete home theatre systems, which are also associated with multiple speakers and wires, but who wanted good quality sound. As the flat panel TV boom has continued, the sound quality of some TV sets has been compromised in the shift towards ever-thinner designs. This has resulted in more soundbars emerging, targeted at those who are not interested enough in audio to purchase a home theatre, but who believe that the sound of their TV would benefit from a little extra investment. In many cases, retailers have reinforced this point with consumers who are purchasing their TV set, suggesting a soundbar as an additional purchase at the same time that they buy the TV.

North America makes up the largest share of the global market, accounting for more than two thirds of global shipments. North America is expected to remain the largest world market out to 2016. Vendors and retailers alike have vigorously promoted soundbars to the consumer, and the powerful TV brands have benefited from bundling TV sets and soundbars, often at a discount.

Looking to Europe, the region has been much slower to follow the North American lead and accounted for less than 20% of global shipments last year. Perhaps this is primarily due to a comparative lack of space in European homes . In addition, retailers in many European markets have been slow to take up the concept of soundbars.

In Japan, the adoption of soundbars occurred much earlier than in Europe, though the market is maturing more rapidly and the country is not a large market for home theatre products. In 2011, Japan accounted for less than 8% of the global market and this share will reduce to half that level by 2016 as the market in Europe and the rest of the world expands.

Despite the growth in soundbars, Futuresource forecasts and analysis do not show the products to become mass market, and penetration will reach just 2% of global households by 2016.